Mission and vision are two interrelated concepts that drove organizations to favorable changes. They dictate which strategies and approaches should be implemented in order to achieve desired goals. In Gems World Academy (GWA), these goals include encouraging learners to aspire to become responsible leaders. A multifaceted approach to education is a major prerequisite for their multilateral development and academic progress, which is the mission of GWA and the district. Considering this, the present paper will aim to explore the significance of the mission and vision statements to the school, explain links between them, and discuss how these concepts can affect and guide the design of the instructional program, including such components as curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
Vision for the Instructional Program
The mission of the school district is “to inspire inquiring, knowledgeable, reflective, and intercultural learners to become morally responsible leaders with the skills and attributes necessary to create a more connected and prosperous world” (GEMS World Academy, 2019a, para. 1). In accordance with the definition of mission provided by Tomal, Schilling, and Trybus (2013), it explains why all schools in Chicago, including GWA, exist and what their main motivations are. At the same time, vision indicates where the school is going and what it aspires to become (Tomal et al., 2013).
GWA’s instructional programs are different from those offered by other private schools in the region. The GEMS World Academy (2019a) states that it strives to implement innovation into the learning process, emphasize multiculturalism, provide students with opportunities for cultural exchange, and expose them to the world’s complexity and diversity. Moreover, the instructional program guarantees student safety, which is one of the top priorities for both parents and the school. Overall, the district mission is to foster sound development of children. In this way, the district mission and the formulated vision are closely interrelated.
Instructional Program Overview
GWA’s current curriculum involves various subjects depending on the students’ grade. For example, the program for international baccalaureate education for grades 6-12 features eight subject groups. They include math, language and literature, sciences, design, individuals and societies, language acquisition, physical and health education, and arts (GEMS World Academy, 2019b). Each of the presented groups has specifically designed learning standards. For instance, in mathematics, students are expected to learn how to apply their knowledge to solving problems in familiar and new situations, demonstrate the understanding of the framework’s branches, and use appropriate mathematical language.
In language and literature, learners should be able to organize their ideas using various forms of communication, understand the links between the components of a text, and produce written and spoken texts effectively. In science, students are expected to develop intellectual and practical capacities through scientific investigations, evaluate implications of scientific developments, and interpret qualitative and quantitative data (GEMS World Academy, n.d.). Other subject groups’ learning standards require students to be able to interpret the meaning of spoken and visual texts, use critical-thinking skills, design tests to evaluate solutions, and enhance their personal and social development.
It is possible to say that the current curriculum adheres to the school’s mission as it provides students with an opportunity to become responsible leaders. In accordance with the abovementioned vision statement, the new curriculum can be designed around essential concepts of each of the subject groups. The curriculum can provide program participants with an opportunity to explore the topics in-depth and in multiple contexts. It can be based on such principles of the curriculum as the inclusion of factual content and disciplines, establishment of links with previous knowledge and experiences, focus on thorough understanding, and development of practical abilities. It may be feasible to develop universal learning standards applicable to several subject groups. Such an approach may enhance young students’ personality traits along with academic skills, as the standards will not be split into several groups. Lastly, the improved program can aim to develop self-confidence in educators and their ability to collaborate with different professionals in order to foster academic excellence and sound development of students. For example, in the fields of math and science, educators can collaborate will college professors and researchers in these fields, who can participate in organizing lessons and learning activities for individuals.
GWA’s instructional practices include the extensive use of innovations and technologies. For example, the facility implements science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) laboratory work into students’ activities and provides open-project learning spaces, encouraging self-organized learning (GEMS World Academy, n.d.). In addition, the institution ensures that all participants of the educational process are engaged in learning. GWA provides instructions for all grades in Mandarin, Spanish, and French besides English. Teachers encourage students to enhance their cultural understanding and improve future intercultural connections.
To realize the formulated vision of the school, it is appropriate to continue implementing the approach to instruction discussed above. According to Tomal et al. (2013), motivating students to engage in the learning process is one of the most important factors for stimulating their commitment to studying. Thus, the focus must be not only on central concepts of the disciplines taught at the academy but also on students’ differences and interests. It is necessary for the school to develop additional strategies aimed to detect possible misunderstandings among teachers and learners, especially in the fields of social sciences and language. In addition, the school should provide access to practices aimed at collaboration, discussion, and deepening of knowledge. Like in a regular classroom, instructions for all subject areas should be based on the learners’ level of understanding and skillfulness, their preferences and motivations; it is important for GWA to continue following this principle. The consideration of the latter factors is particularly important since leaders will need to align individual interests of teachers with the school’s need for change and improvement, as well as district mission and GWA’s vision.
GEMS World Academy (n.d.) reports that the aim of the school’s assessment is to provide students with an opportunity for reflection and identifying future learning goals. In addition, evaluation techniques aim to improve instructional practices and promote positive school-wide attitudes towards personal growth. Evaluation practices in place include summative and formative assessments, such as observation, selected response, open-ended tasks, performance assessment, and self and peer assessment (GEMS World Academy, n.d.). In addition, the school uses report cards that help students to provide feedback and their opinions on the learning process; the cards utilize a 1-7 score scale. Finally, learners have portfolios that illustrate their achievements. These documents include information about individuals’ involvement in the educational process and their development along with work samples.
It is possible to say that current assessment practices are effective. They allow for evaluating students’ work and progress from various perspectives. Adjustments for assessment practices can include more measures aimed to analyze educators’ effectiveness with respect to students’ performance in class. For instance, educators can evaluate individuals’ language skills during oral tests, while also assessing the communicative strategies they use with their peers. It is appropriate to commence the program with a preliminary assessment of teachers’ skills and then compare them with data obtained from final observations and evaluations. In this way, it will be possible to monitor both students’ progress and the overall effectiveness of the instructional programs.
It may be expected that within the next three-five years, the school will reach a successful realization of the instructional program vision because its current approaches to instruction, assessment, and curriculum adhere to its mission. It is evident that the academy strives to implement effective teaching strategies in the learning process. It is possible to expect that, with time, the school will develop more innovations, designed to assist teachers and improve individuals’ performance in class. In three-five years, all program participants can be expected to have the necessary tools and to show high levels of performance; GWA will provide them with multiple appropriate resources to do so. It means that the goals and objectives incorporated in the vision will be attained to a substantial degree and will be advanced to encourage further improvement and enhancement of teachers’ competence.
Mission and vision statements are very important to curriculum leaders because they indicate what the school must attain and why it is important. It is valid to conclude that the described principles and elements of content, instruction, and assessment are interrelated with GWA’s vision and goals. They are aimed at the development of teachers’ competence and confidence, as well as the alignment of learners’ personal interests with school needs. GWA uses effective approaches to developing a curriculum, instruction, and assessment techniques. It allows suggesting that the school will continue to show effective performance in the future.
GEMS World Academy. (2019a). About us. Why a GEMS education. Web.
GEMS World Academy. (2019b). Upper school (grades 6-12). Web.
GEMS World Academy. (n.d.). Middle school. Upper school. Curriculum handbook. Web.
Tomal, D. R., Schilling, C. A., & Trybus, M. A. (2013). Leading school change: Maximizing resources for school improvement. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Education.